Chinese president Xi Jinping defended China’s approach to human rights, amid growing global criticism of country’s treatment of the minorities.
In his address to the nation, Xi said that China has its own individual approach to human rights, which needs to be publicized and respected. He shaped human rights in the mould of Chinese characteristics while countering the criticism of the country’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, refusing to be apologetic about it.
He took credit for having taken the protection of human rights to a higher level after he came to power in 2012. He talked about social, political, and economic goals to ensure human rights. But there was no mention of the treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
The goals were to review the country’s human rights achievements, both theoretical and practical, in the new era; assess the international struggle in the sphere of human rights, and “maintain a steadfast commitment to the Chinese path to promote further progress in human rights.”
“During the Western bourgeois revolution, the thinkers of the Enlightenment put forward the concept of “natural rights,” which holds that all men are created equal and possess inalienable rights, a concept that helped propel forward revolutions in Britain, America, France, and other countries,” Xi said, giving the West rare credit for its early forays into the field of human rights.
Referring to socialist ideals of human rights, Xi quoted Karl Marx as arguing that “Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned by it.”
Xi then argued how China’s communists always ensured “respect and protection for human rights” as their “relentless pursuit”. “Throughout the periods of the new-democratic revolution, socialist revolution and construction, and reform, opening up and socialist modernization, the CPC pursued its founding mission of seeking happiness for the people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation with steadfast commitment and led the people to great victories in revolution, construction, and reform,” he said.
He then responded to the west’s criticism of its treatment of ethnic minorities. We have fully implemented the Party’s policies on ethnic and religious affairs, ensuring that all ethnic groups in China are equal, respecting people’s religious beliefs, and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of people of all ethnic groups. “We continued reform of the judicial system, launched the Peaceful China Initiative, strengthened the rule of law, carried out education and rectification campaigns among judicial, prosecuting, and public security agencies in a bid to improve their conduct, and took resolute action against criminal gangs and organised crime, as well as illegal and criminal activities, to ensure lasting social stability and protect lives and property,”, Xi said.
He also defended his actions in Xinjiang province “Human rights are not special privileges bestowed on some people or a small minority, but universal rights to be enjoyed by all people. We have safeguarded the people’s democratic rights, given full play to their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity, and ensured that in advancing human rights, the people are the main contributors, promoters, and beneficiaries. “
He considered elevating “China’s human rights cause” as part of the country’s new journey toward the “Second Centenary Goal of building a modern socialist country.”
He further explained “China’s human rights cause”, saying, “We must continue to follow the Chinese approach to advancing human rights, adapt to the people’s new expectations for a better and higher-quality life, and continue to meet their growing demands for rights in all respects. We should promote the coordinated development of the economy, democracy, the rule of law, thought and culture, fairness and justice, social governance, and environmental protection; and comprehensively advance initiatives in areas including employment, income distribution, education, social security, health care, housing, elderly care, and support for minors. We will strengthen human rights protection in the process of advancing material, political, cultural, ethical, social, and environmental progress. “
In May this year, Xi held a video conference with UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet over its alleged mistreatment of Uyghur muslims which the west has labelled “genocide’.